Researchers looked into the ornamental beads to deduce cultural and agricultural aptitudes of our forebears in Northern Europe

Crops and livestock raising have been a part of the human existence for eons of years. But, for  our Neolithic ancestors, agriculture was at first a difficult endeavor.

Over 10,000 years ago,  farming began its range across Europe. However, the transition wasn’t immediate. Northern Europeans were initially unimpressed with the technique and even resisted the practice,  as opposed to the original and old-fashioned hunter-gatherer lifestyle,  according to a study.

The Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHUS) researchers, a collaboration between New York University and France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) used ornaments made from bead to trace back, the cultural and agricultural aptitudes of Neolithic Europeans.     The open-access journal PLOS ONE published their findings.

Started around 10,200 B.C., the Neolithic era, refers to the last portion of the Stone Age. During the Mesolithic previous era, the human populace were mostly practitioners of hunter-gatherers existence. But as the stone tools and other technologies advance, so began the proliferation of domestication of animals and organic farming. Unfortunately, on the archaeologist’s viewpoint, this transition period was documented  poorly. Nobody knows the exact timeframe of this agricultural lifestyle, predominantly in Europe.

Researchers looked into an unobtrusive source, the ornamental bracelets and beads, to find out.  Solange Rigaud, a CIRHUS researcher,  led an in depth analysis of 224 bead styles discovered all over 400 European sites, both from the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic era. To an average onlooker, they may not look much, but to Dr. Rigaud who attests they have profoundly cultural meaning. She says, body ornamentation  expresses “symbolic codes,” one that changes as populations mix, move and trade.

“We therefore consider personal ornaments as a reliable proxy for reconstructing cultural diversity and change in past societies,” Rigaud said.

 

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